Magic Leap is a US startup company that is founded by Rony Abovitz in 2010 and is working on a head-mounted virtual retinal display which superimposes 3D computer-generated imagery over real world objects, by projecting a digital light field into the user’s eye. It is attempting to construct a light-field chip using silicon photonics.
Before Magic Leap, a head-mounted display using light fields was already demonstrated by Nvidia in 2013, and the MIT Media Lab has also constructed a 3D display using “compressed light fields”; however Magic Leap asserts that it achieves better resolution with a new proprietary technique that projects an image directly onto the user’s retina. According to a researcher who has studied the company’s patents, Magic Leap is likely to use stacked silicon waveguides.
Virtual reality overlaid on the real world in this manner is called mixed reality, or MR. (The goggles are semi-transparent, allowing you to see your actual surroundings.) It is more difficult to achieve than the classic fully immersive virtual reality, or VR, where all you see are synthetic images, and in many ways MR is the more powerful of the two technologies.
Magic Leap is not the only company creating mixed-reality technology, but right now the quality of its virtual visions exceeds all others. Because of this lead, money is pouring into this Florida office park. Google was one of the first to invest. Andreessen Horowitz, Kleiner Perkins, and others followed. In the past year, executives from most major media and tech companies have made the pilgrimage to Magic Leap’s office park to experience for themselves its futuristic synthetic reality.
The video below is shot directly through the Magic Leap technology without composing any special effects. It gives us an idea of how it looks through the Magic Leap.
On December 9, 2015, Forbes reported on documents filed in the state of Delaware, indicating a Series C funding round of $827m. This funding round could bring the company’s total funding to $1.4 billion, and its post-money valuation to $3.7 billion.
On February 2, 2016, Financial Times reported that Magic Leap further raised another funding round of close to $800m, valuing the startup at $4.5 billion.
On February 11, 2016, Silicon Angle reported that Magic Leap had joined the Entertainment Software Association.
In April 2016, Magic Leap acquired Israeli cyber security company NorthBit.
Magic Leap has raised $1.4 billion from a list of investors including Google and China’s Alibaba Group.
On June 16, 2016, Magic Leap announced a partnership with Disney’s Lucasfilm and its ILMxLAB R&D unit. The two companies will form a joint research lab at Lucasfilm’s San Francisco campus.